Saturday, August 11, 2012

Consumers, Customers, and People

A friend of mine used to rail at the use of the word "consumer" to describe, well, us.  I've come around to that point of view.

Consumer is a great word to use when studying economics.  However, we have let the vocabulary be used to turn us into objects.

For example, I was listening to Marketplace yesterday and they were talking about the fact that Goldman Sachs was not going to be prosecuted by the government for their role in the 2008 financial debacle.  The host said something to the effect of:

"And so what about all the consumers out there who have been hurt by this?"

Strong words...not so much.  How about:

"And so what about all the customers out there who have been hurt by this?"

Or even better:

"And so what about all the poeople out there who have been hurt by this?"

I bring this up because "consumer" is one of the content cartel's favorite words.  They like to say they offer many legal choices to "consumers".

Because, you see, to them (and all other major corporations), that's what you are.  A consumer.

Don't you feel like you have more rights if you refer to yourself as a "customer"?

Or, again, dare I say it, "person".

Language is very powerful, and I think it's important to put the people and customers back into our economic relationships.  It's one of the important ways to put corporations back in their correct place--as servants.

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